Big-hearted neighbours who run the pet centre at a Somerset garden centre have brought smiles to the faces of residents of a Wellington dementia care home by gifting them a new guinea pig to take the place of a much-loved pet.
When Richard Dempslake, activities co-ordinator at Camelot House and Lodge, explained to the animal carers at Monkton Elm Garden and Pet Centre near Taunton, how forlorn his residents were due to the passing of one of their two guinea pigs, they quickly agreed to come to the rescue and supply a replacement ‘piggie’ free of charge.
Richard said: “We bought two beautiful boy guinea pigs at the beginning of May, but sadly one of them developed a non-operable hernia and had to be put to sleep.
“This left us with a large vet’s bill – not what we’d expected to spend our fund-raising money on. Also our residents missed the little chap and Ernie, the surviving guinea pig, was clearly lonely so we decided to ask Monkton Elm if they would help us out and they did.
“Obviously they take a very responsible approach to animal welfare and asked us to leave Ernie with them for a short while, so they could select a suitable companion for him and be confident of their compatibility.
“We now have a lovely new piggie called Bertie, and both the animals and the residents are very happy.”
Camelot Care, the group that runs Camelot House and Lodge, is proactive in providing pets for residents because research shows the benefits include an improved sense of well-being on many levels
Stroking or playing with an animal increases certain hormone levels and can provide a real therapeutic boost for the people they support, while helping with their maintenance and upkeep is also beneficial because such jobs add purpose and structure to the residents’ day.
Experts have shown that spending time with animals can genuinely benefit people’s physical health: those who pet or play with a dog or cat, even for just five minutes, can benefit from lowered blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health.
It is also known that enjoying a pet’s company promotes a feeling of relaxation, which in turn can help to relieve symptoms of anxiety and reduce physical issues such as pain.
Camelot House and Lodge, run by award-winning care providers Camelot Care, is home to up to 90 residents with memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.